Research Papers

Reducing Auto-Related Crime in Winnipeg

Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6C
Author/Auteur Rick Linden
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

6C - Linden

Abstract

Background/Context: From 2003 to 2008, Winnipeg had North America's highest rates of vehicle theft. Rates peaked at 1932/100,000 in 2004 and again in 2006. These rates were 80 percent higher than the next highest city and vehicle theft made up about 20 percent of Winnipeg's total number of reported crimes. The cost of stolen vehicles was nearly $40 million/year, but the danger to residents was an even greater concern because of the recklessness of the auto thieves, who caused a number of deaths and injuries during this period. The Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS) was implemented in order to address this problem.

Aims/Objectives: The aim of the project was to reduce auto theft in Winnipeg. More broadly, WATSS also had the goal of demonstrating the utility of applying evidence-based techniques to auto-related crime and safety problems.

Methods/Target Group: WATSS is a comprehensive strategy that involves several partners including the Winnipeg Police Service, Manitoba Justice (including youth probation and Crown prosecutors), and Manitoba Public Insurance. The Strategy has three components: a tiered approach to at-risk youth with intensive community supervision of high-risk youth; a program requiring compulsory vehicle immobilizers for the most at-risk vehicles; and youth programming addressing the underlying causes of vehicle theft.

Results/Activities: Motor vehicle thefts declined by 29 percent in 2007, 42 percent in 2008, and 34 percent in 2009. By 2014, rates of auto theft were down by nearly 83 percent and were not far above the national average. Savings attributed to the program are estimated to be over $30 million/year.

Discussion/Deliverables: WATSS became a continuing program within the Winnipeg Police Service and its partners. Because of the program’s success, many of its innovations have been incorporated in several new initiatives. The most important of these has been a strategy called the Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) which involves integrating crime and traffic enforcement. DDACTS has also been successful and results of this initiative will also be discussed in the paper.

Conclusions: Both WATSS and DDACTS illustrate the advantages of using an evidence-based approach to issues of traffic crime and traffic safety. This approach is slowly becoming more common within the Canadian police community and research into its effectiveness will help to institutionalize this approach.

Rick Linden